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Olympia Car Accidents/Personal Injury/Criminal Defense Blog

Lab backlog delays DUI cases

There is a significant backlog of DUI cases in Washington due to thousands of requests for blood tests for drivers accused of using drugs before driving. In 2017, the state toxicology lab, run by the Washington State Patrol, handled 15,945 cases. This figure signifies an increase of 9 percent over 2016. The number of such cases has grown by 45 percent in the previous five years.

The laboratory tests blood samples taken in DUI cases as well as handle the testing following autopsies as requested by medical examiners and coroners. While the number of cases has risen dramatically, the number of employees at the facility has not. This means that cases are delayed as testing time increases. In 2017, the median time to receive results from the lab was 45 days, and it was only 20 days in 2016.

Man arrested for DUI after hitting 2 cars

On March 2, a Washington man was taken into custody on suspicion of drunk driving. The incident took place at approximately 12:23 a.m. in Parkland.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department received a report of a hit-and-run accident outside the Parkland Manor Apartments. Witnesses said that a man had smashed his car into a parked vehicle and then drove off. After allegedly driving down the wrong side of 106 Street, he headed down Sales Road, where he crashed into a second vehicle.

Drunk drivers could face harsh consequences

Motorists who are detained on suspicion of DUI in Washington and other states may want to know more about the potential charges that could follow. Drunk driving charges may be connected to the use of alcohol, illegal substances or prescription drugs. In some situations, DUI charges are combined with manslaughter.

Many allegedly drunk drivers who are taken into custody by law enforcement officials will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor DUI. Others will find themselves facing charges of juvenile or commercial driver DUI.

Man facing felony drunk driving charges after fatal crash

A 27-year-old professional skateboarder has been charged with vehicular assault and vehicular homicide in connection with an August 2017 car accident in Washington state. The crash claimed the life of one of the man's passengers and left the other severely injured. Police say that the man was traveling at highway speeds in an area with a posted speed limit of 15 mph when he lost control of his vehicle on a curve.

According to official reports, deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office were detached to the vicinity of Thorson Road and Southwest Bank Road on Vashon Island at approximately 10:14 p.m. on August 30 after a resident called 911 to report an accident. Reports suggest that the man's vehicle came to a rest after striking two trees. A 46-year-old man who had been sitting in the front-passenger seat of the car was pronounced dead at the scene. A 26-year-old man who had been sitting in the rear of the vehicle was transported by helicopter to a trauma center in Seattle.

Senior Washington lawmaker charged with DUI

Washington lawmaker Timm Ormsby has apologized to voters for his 'very poor choice" after being charged with driving while under the influence. The Democrat, who has served in the legislature since 2003 and chairs the influential House Appropriations Committee, was taken into custody on Feb. 10 after being involved in a one-car accident on 58th Avenue NW about three miles west of the Olympia city limits. Reports indicate that Ormsby lost control of his Jeep Cherokee as he made a turn.

Officers say that they arrived at the scene to find Ormsby receiving medical treatment in a fire department aid vehicle. The legislator is said to have admitted drinking two 12-ounce beers earlier in the day and two 16-ounce beers while working on budget issues when officers questioned him about the strong smell of alcohol that was allegedly emanating from his overturned vehicle. According to reports, Ormsby was taken into custody after failing to complete a series of standardized field sobriety tests.

Washington looks at law around urine testing after DUI charge

According to Washington state's highest court, random urine tests for drugs and alcohol for people charged with but not yet convicted of DUI are unconstitutional because they are too invasive. The court, which reached its decision with a 5-4 majority, also said that based on state law, urine testing at the pretrial stage could only be done for people who had prior DUI convictions or who were facing felony charges.

Under current law, a judge can order a person facing charges to refrain from drugs and alcohol until the case is resolved. How or whether that can be monitored is under review. State Sen. Mike Padden has introduced a bill that would allow judges to order random urine tests. However, according to the public defender who argued the case before the Supreme Court, a legislature cannot overturn a Supreme Court decision with a bill.

How pretrial detention may affect a person's case

Some Washington defendants might be pressured to plead guilty to charges because they are unable to afford bail. A study that appeared in the American Economic Review found that people who are released before a trial are 14 percentage points less likely to be found guilty. This is mostly because people who remain in jail have a weaker bargaining position and are more likely to plead guilty.

According to the study, which was conducted by researchers at Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, poorer defendants are less able to make bail. The study found most of them earned under $7,000 in the year leading up to being taken into custody, making a bail of even a few thousand dollars out of reach for them.

Report supports a reduced BAC limit

Currently, the legal blood alcohol limit in Washington state is .08 percent. This is also true in every other state in America until Dec. 30 when a Utah law lowering its legal limit to .05 percent takes effect. A report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that all states should adopt the .05 percent threshold. Doing so may reduce or eliminate the 10,000 alcohol-related traffic deaths in the United States each year.

The report also asserts that 28 percent of traffic deaths are caused by drivers impaired by alcohol. That translates to 29 people who die each day in crashes where alcohol played a role. To combat impaired driving, the report suggests that alcohol taxes be doubled, which could reduce crash deaths by 11 percent. Another recommendation is to limit the ability for bars, restaurants and stores to sell alcohol to customers.

Seahawks player faces DUI charge

Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks was taken into custody for drunk driving in Washington during the morning of Jan. 14. In a tweet published after the arrest, the football player claimed he had a blood alcohol content of .03 percent when he was taken into custody. This is below the legal limit in the state of .08 percent.

However, state law says that a person can be charged with DUI for having any volume of drugs or alcohol in their system. This assumes that there is evidence that the driver is impaired by a volume of alcohol at or below the legal limit. Lane was booked into the King County Jail at 5:30 that morning and released on his own recognizance about four hours later. Authorities in King County did not comment on the matter.

Phone use while driving leads to DUI charge

Professional skateboarding fans who reside in the state of Washington may be interested in knowing about a drunk driving case that is unfolding elsewhere on the West Coast. According to entertainment news sources, Brandon Cole "Bam" Margera is facing a DUI charge after driving past California Highway Patrol officers on Jan. 7 while using his phone. Sources report that this is the first time that the television personality and stunt performer has been taken into police custody on allegations of DUI.

CHP officers were in the midst of an unrelated traffic stop when the incident occurred. Police reportedly instructed the celebrity to pull over after they observed him slowing to pass the first stopped vehicle. Although Mr. Margera had publicly discussed embracing sobriety as recently as 2017, police allegedly detected a strong odor of alcohol when they questioned the "Jackass" star during the stop.